Taylor Swift Turned Me into a Romantic
You guys, I think I’m a romantic.
*sixteen-year-old me rolls her eyes SO HARD*
Don’t worry, sixteen-year-old me, it’s cool. And no, I don’t mean this kind of romantic. I mean the one you think you hate, the candlelit dinner, walks down the beach one. Because, guess what?! It turns out that romance doesn’t have to look like that! It can be so many things!
I have a small confession to make… I initially didn’t want anything to do with Swoon Reads when it started. A romance imprint? That’s so not me. I mean, who’s really a romantic, right? Today? In 2014? It seems so old fashioned. I mean, I spend (too much) time on Tumblr, so I know that nowadays, girls don’t like romance, they like Natalie Dormer and feminism and lighting things on fire. And I know romance, because I have a friend from high school who is SUCH a romantic. Her fantasy life would be eating macarons in her apartment in Paris followed by a stroll down the beach, wine glass in hand. Me, though, I’m not like that. My dream life is something more like unlimited pizza and Netflix. I’m that girl who uses the Miss Congeniality option when asked to describe a perfect date. If I never in my life see another flashmob video, proposal video, or, ugh, another flashmob proposal video again, it would be too soon. Because honestly, Paris and flashmobs and public proposals, that’s what romance was to me, and I am not those things.
But here’s another confession… I totally love One Direction.
I love them for a lot of reasons, but today I love them because they released this whole video filled with fantasy dates. It’s every human’s dream! YOU (yes you) can go on a date with a member of One Direction! You can be in a fancy restaurant sipping wine with Zayn! You can play Monopoly with Niall by the fire! But wait, Harry might fall while ice skating and break his arm! Louis might get arrested (Louis, really?) Liam might throw up in a hat! And well, I just think that kind of sucks, but do you think any of us would really care? It’s still pretty romantic.
People can fall in love doing nearly anything. And it’s the falling in love part that makes it romance, not the wine, or the candlelight, or the castle, or the tall dark stranger, or any of that. Maybe One Direction is trying to remind us that romance might look different to different people (maybe even like pizza and Netflix!), and sometimes the dates that end with “twenty stitches in a hospital room” can be just as romantic. And as for that last part, I mean, we know for sure that’s true, because our girl Taylor told us that!
It’s really no shock that we’re back at Taylor Swift again. Taylor Swift can make a lot of things cool: Keds, country music, Conor Kennedy, the Eighties… but the longest con she’s been pulling on me this whole time is her romance con. She is unapologetically romantic, but she knows exactly what she’s doing. Sometimes I picture her like hey, you, over there, I know you think you loved Love Story in spite of the Romance, but I know you actually loved it because of the falling in love, and that’s the same thing! If there’s one thing that’s consistent about my relationship with Taylor Swift, it’s that time after time, she forces me to relate to her love stories, and she forces me to feel something.
And, Taylor, she really pulls out all the stops sometimes. There’s this bonus track on 1989 (in case you are lost, 1989 is Taylor’s newest album, also, need help lifting that rock you’re living under?) that is called New Romance and it is so so so good:
Baby we’re the new romantics
Come on, come along with me
Heart break is the national anthem
We sing it proudly
We are too busy dancing
To get knocked off our feet
Baby we’re the new romantics
The best people in life are free
Because maybe heartbreak is a part of Taylor’s love story now. And now Taylor isn’t looking for a love that is going to knock her off her feet, but for one that will dance with her instead (and isn’t that just as good sometimes?). And now the love stories look a little different but don’t worry, she says, it’s still romantic, it’s just a new romantic.
I think it’s time to tell that sixteen-year-old me that yes, I used to think I hated romance, but it turns out I really like books (and stories, and songs) about falling in love. And to repurpose that quote from Ratatouille: Not every book is a love story, but a great love story can come from any book. Romance doesn’t have to look like what you’d think. So, I guess I have to thank Taylor and One Direction for forcing me to see the (new) romantic in myself, which, if you think about it, is a little ridiculous, but hey, it’s 2014! And I’ve heard that girls don’t like expensive candlelit dinners, they like Taylor Swift and pizza and dancing and maybe even romance.